Now be of good cheer. This blog post is meant to be a light-hearted discussion of this matter. The bottom line is that the Church currently has NO rule on this matter and women are entirely free to wear a veil or a hat in Church or not.

I thought I’d blog on this since it came up in the comments yesterday and it occurred to me that it might provoke an interesting discussion. But again this is not meant to be a directive discussion about what should be done. Rather an informative discussion about the meaning of head coverings for women in the past and how such customs might be interpreted now. We are not in the realm of liturgical law here just preference and custom. 

What I’d like to do is to try and understand the meaning and purpose of a custom that, up until rather recently was quite widespread in the Western Church. The picture at the right was taken by LIFE Magazine in the early 1960s.

With the more frequent celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, the use of the veil is also becoming more common. But even at the Latin Masses I celebrate, women exhibit diversity in this matter. Some wear the longer veil (mantilla) others a short veil. Others  wear hats. Still others wear no head covering at all.

History – the wearing of a veil or hat for women seems to have been a fairly consistent practice in the Church in the West until fairly recently. Practices in the Eastern and Orthodox Churches have varied. Protestant denominations also show a wide diversity in this matter. The 1917 Code of Canon Law in  the Catholic Church mandated that women wear a veil or head covering. Prior to 1917 there was no universal Law but it was customary in most places for women to wear some sort of head covering. The 1983 Code of Canon Law made no mention of this requirement and by the 1980s most women, at least here in America, had ceased to wear veils or hats anyway. Currently there is no binding rule and the custom in most places is no head covering at all.    

Scripture – In Biblical Times women generally wore veils in any public setting and this would include the Synagogue. The clearest New Testament reference to women veiling or covering their head is from St. Paul:

But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.  But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved.  For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.  A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man;  for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels. Woman is not independent of man or man of woman in the Lord. For just as woman came from man, so man is born of woman; but all things are from God.  Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head unveiled? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears his hair long it is a disgrace to him, whereas if a woman has long hair it is her glory, because long hair has been given (her) for a covering? But if anyone is inclined to be argumentative, we do not have such a custom, nor do the churches of God. (1 Cor 11:1-11)

This is clearly a complicated passage and has some unusual references. Paul seems to set forth four arguments as to why a woman should wear a veil.

1. Argument 1 – Paul clearly sees the veil a woman wears as a sign of her submission to her husband. He also seems to link it to modesty since his references to a woman’s  hair cut short were references to the way prostitutes wore their hair and his reference to a shaved head was the punishment due an adultress. No matter how you look at it such arguments aren’t going to encourage a lot of women to wear a veil today. It is a true fact that the Scriptures consistently teach that a wife is to be submitted to her husband. I cannot and will not deny what God’s word says even though it is unpopular. However I will say that the same texts that tell a woman to be submitted tell the husband to have a great and abiding love for his wife. I have blogged on this “difficult” teaching on marriage elsewhere and would encourage you to read that blog post if you’re troubled or bothered by the submission texts. It is here: An Unpopular Teaching on Marriage. That said, it hardly seems that women would rush today to wear veils to emphasize their submission to their husband.

2. Argument 2 – Regarding the Angels- Paul also sees a reason for women to wear veils “because of the angels.” This is a difficult reference  to understand. There are numerous explanations I have read over the years. One of the less convincing ones is that the angels are somehow distracted by a woman’s beauty. Now the clergy might be :-) but it just doesn’t seem likely to me that the angels would have this problem. I think the more convincing argument is that St. Paul has Isaiah in mind who wrote: I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, with the train of his garment filling the temple. Seraphim were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two they veiled their feet, and with two they hovered aloft.(Is 6:2-3). Hence the idea seems to be that since the angels veil their faces (heads) it is fitting for women to do the same. But then the question, why not a man too? And here also Paul supplies an aswer that is “difficult” for modern ears: A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man. In other words a man shares God’s glory immediately whereas a woman does as well but derivatively for she was formed from Adam’s wounded side. Alas this argument too will not likely cause a run on veil sales.

3. Argument 3 – The argument from “nature” – In effect Paul argues that since nature itself veils a woman with long hair and this is her glory that this also argues for her covering her head in Church. What is not clear is that, if nature has already provided this covering, why then should she cover her covering? I want to take up this notion of glory in my conclusion.

4. Argument 4-  The Argument from Custom-  This argument is pretty straight-forward: Paul says it is customary for a woman to cover her head when praying and, other things being equal, this custom should be followed. Paul goes on to assert that those who insist on doing differently are being “argumentative.” In effect he argues that for the sake of good order and to avoid controversy the custom should be followed. However, in calling it a custom, the text also seems to allow for a time like ours where the custom is different. Customs have stability but are not usually forever fixed. Hence, though some argue that wearing veils is a scriptural norm that women “must” follow today, the use of the word custom seems to permit of the possibility that it is not an unvarying norm we are dealing with here. Rather, it is a custom from that time that does not necessarily bind us today. This of course seems to be how the Church understands this text for she does not require head coverings for her daughters.

Conclusions -

1. That women are not required to wear veils today is clear in terms of Church Law. The argument that the Church is remiss in not requiring this of her daughters is hard to sustain when scriptures attach the word “custom” to the practice.

2. I will say however that I like veils and miss women wearing them. When I was a boy in the 1960s my mother and sister always wore their veils and so did all women in those days and I remember how modestly beautiful I found them to be. When I see women wear them today I have the same impression.

3. That said, a woman does not go to Church to please or impress me.

4. It is worth noting that a man is still forbidden to wear a hat in Church. If I see it I go to him and ask him to remove it. There  a partial exception to the clergy who are permitted to wear birettas and to bishops who are to wear the miter. However, there are strict rules in this regard that any head cover is to be removed when they go to the altar. Hence,  for men,  the rule, or shall we say the custom, has not changed.

5. Argument 5 – The Argument from Humility – This leads me then to a possible understanding of the wearing of the veil for women and the uncovered head for the men that may be more useful to our times. Let’s call it The Argument from Humility.

For both men and women, humility before God is the real point of these customs. In the ancient world as now, women gloried in their hair and often gave great attention to it. St. Paul above,  speaks of a woman’s hair as her glory. As a man I am not unappreciative of this glory. Women do wonderful things with their hair. As such their hair is part of their glory and, as St. Paul says it seems to suggest above  it is appropriate to cover our glory before the presence of God.

As for men, in the ancient world and to some lesser extent now, hats often signified rank and membership. As such men displayed their rank and membership in organizations with pride in the hats they wore. Hence Paul tells them to uncover their heads and leave their worldly glories aside when coming before God. Today men still do  some of this (esp. in the military) but men wear less hats in general. But when they do they are often boasting of allegiances to sports teams and the like. Likewise, some men who belong to fraternal organizations such as the various Catholic Knights groups often  display ranks on their hats. We clergy do this as well to some extent with different color poms on birettas etc. Paul encourages all this to be left aside in Church. As for the clergy, though we may enter the Church with these ranked hats and insignia, we are to cast them aside when we go to the altar. Knights organizations are also directed  to set down their hats when the Eucharistic prayer begins.

I do not advance this argument from humility to say women ought to cover their heads, for I would not require what the Church does not. But I offer the line of reasoning as a way to understand veiling in a way that is respectful of the modern setting, IF  a woman chooses to use the veil. Since this is just a matter of custom then we are not necessarily required to understand its meaning in exactly the way St. Paul describes. Submission is biblical but it need not be the reason for the veil. Humility before God seems a more workable understanding especially since it can be seen to apply to both men and women in the way I have tried to set it forth.

There are an amazing number of styles when it comes to veils and mantillas: Mantillas online

This video gives some other reasons why a woman might wear a veil. I think it does a pretty good job of showing some of the traditions down through the centuries. However I think the video strays from what I have presented here in that it seems to indicate that women ought to wear the veil and that it is a matter of obedience. I do not think that is what the Church teaches in this regard. There can be many good reasons to wear the veil but I don’t think we can argue that obedience to a requirement is one of them.

220 Responses

  1. Barbara Rote says:

    Dear Msgr. Charles Pope:

    May I share my experience with adopting the practice of wearing a veil? Being a convert to the church I find I am discovering many treasures of our faith. Several factors led me to accepting humbly this mantle of Mary. That is the sense in which I wear this veil. I’ve sought Mary’s intercession, instruction and protection. Mary wore a veil. If it’s good enough for the Mother of God, it’s good enough for me! Seriously though, after undergoing the De Montfort consecration to Mary, I felt led to enter the school of Mary for my discipleship to our Lord. I must admit at times the veil felt more like a bridle on a horse, rather than some ornament of obedience. Once during a time of receiving holy communion before the tabernacle I FELT like a bride approaching the bridegroom. That experience has stayed with me and wearing a veil is a physical reminder of my position as a bride to Christ. It serves as a daily reminder that I am a daughter of the Most High God. Wearing a veil makes present to me (and to others) that I am a cherished daughter of the Most High God. Think about it, in every area of daily life my dignity is usually not recognized but at church, before God, I am elevated from the “everyday” world to the reality of the “spiritual”. I find I need to be reminded of what is important, real and everlasting. It is my hope to inspire others in my parish to return to wearing a veil. At the very least to reflect on the idea of the veil.

    • Karen Andrews says:

      I can fully accept the argument from humility as long as it applies to men also as your presentation appropriately does so Msgr. Women in general do spend a lot of time “doing” their hair and the purpose behind it is to look as “pretty” as possible. This of course is a pointless activity before God and in fact could be considered of itself quite sinful because the focus of the action becomes more important than God Himself if it is done in order to go to Mass. HOWEVER, hell itself will freeze over before I agree to be submissive to my husband or to any man. Woman was created from the SIDE of the first man (Adam being a generic term) as John Paul II is at great pains to point out in his Theology of the Body, not from the head or the foot. Woman is man’s equal and his helper and soul-mate. No one will ever convince me to wear a veil in order to acknowledge submission to man, woman was not created in the image of man but in the image of God in exactly the same way that man was, and in fact through the beauty of Motherhood participates in the act of creation in the way that a man never can, and so in many ways, she holds the hand of God. Of course this does not put her above man either. If one wants to understand the difference between men and women then read JP II’s Theology of Body and that will avoid anyone getting hot under the collar over potential sexual discrimation. Phew, that off my chest, I actually was very disappointed as a girl when I couldn’t wear a mantilla like my Mum used to, simply because the women looked so mysterious and enchanting. By the time I was old enough they had disappeared from sight.

      • Yes, the logic I used in the original article was that since the veil was a matter of custom women could see it’s meaning in other ways than as a symbol of submission to a husband. Hence other meanings can be attributed to it such as Barabara has done (Mantle of Mary) and others: humility, modesty, prayer veil, bride of Chirst etc.

    • Thanks Barbara for your testimony. About it being a mantle of Mary is yet another way to understand the veil for those who choose to wear it.

  2. bt says:

    I don’t know the precise appearance of Jesus clothes, but it seems they were of a beauty enough that the soldiers cast lots for the them at His death.

  3. Mike says:

    Please forgive me if I am repeating anyone, but I wanted to throw in my two cents, and reading through all the replies this time is taking quite a while!
    It seems to me that part of the dilemma here is that there are two viewpoints that are both valid. There are values that seem to in tension with one another. We come to Mass to worship God and give Him Glory, and so our focus should be on him, not on eachother. But then what is the difference between Mass and individual sacrifice and prayer? Is not part of the point of Mass that there is an intrinsic difference between individual and community prayer? So the people around us should be important, and we should pay attention to them.
    It can seem to those of us who go out of our way Not to call attention to ourselves that those who make outward dispays of piety are trying to call attention to themselves or push an agenda. But those same people may have in their hearts the intention of striving for modesty. Can’t we agree that for us to be Charitable to those around us we should assume good intentions? I can see from reading some of the replies here that some of the women who cover their heads at Mass do so because it helps them remain prayerful and reverent. Some other women don’t feel the need for that aid (although perhaps they should give it a try just to see what it does for them). Part of the glory of coming together as a community is the sharing of what we all hold sacred, but part of it is experiencing the beauty of our diversity.

  4. Bender says:

    The pro-veil people are concerned with their own personal choice, the anti-veil people are concerned with the choices of others.

    My observation, beyond noting that there ARE divisions here, is that the “pro-veil people” are as concerned with what others do or do not do as are the “anti-veil people,” if not more so. I note very few comments conceding that non-head-covered women can be just as humble and devout as the head-coverers.

    • Yes, the evidence mounts Bender, some of the divisions have become more pronounced. Too bad about something that’s an option

    • J says:

      Yes, Bender, you “note very few comments conceding that non-head-covered women can be just as humble &c.” But what is also very few (in fact nonexistent), which you do not note, is that there are some people here who are respecting freedom of others, those whom I recklessly labeled “pro-veil”, and those people, while they are not “conceding that non-head-covered women can be just as humble and devout”, yet neither are they claiming that non-head-covering women are being prideful.

      On the other hand, the group which I recklessly labeled “anti-veil” is making positive claims to the contrary (in addition to failing to concede what you want everyone to concede.

      It was reckless of me to use those labels, I think, because they imply division (and encourage it). I regret that mistake.

  5. starsdancing says:

    I never really understood this supposed debate.

    If you wanna wear one, wear one.

    If you don’t, don’t.

    God knows your heart — He knows if you’re wearing it to seek personal attention or to “show up” or seem superior to other women, or if you’re wearing it as an action that sincerely supports your spiritual growth.

    As someone who grew up when we had to wear them and was happy to not have to bother anymore when we didn’t, and as someone who has always lived in large urban parishes, I’ve attended Masses where all women from the tiniest girl to the oldest biddy wore them, where no one wore them, where it’s an ethnic/cultural thing in which most of the women from one particular ethnic group dominating the parish wears them but no one else, where it’s just a handful of twenty-somethings donning Amish-looking clothing and wearhing them very, very self-consciously, looking all around them during Mass just hoping beyond hope someone would notice, where it’s one or two ancient old ladies still wearing them very unself-consciously and naturally, and so forth.


    I really don’t get it — maybe it seems really exotic and romantic to those who didn’t grow up with it, or maybe it seems oppressive to others, but it’s just a personal choice, like which saint you feel drawn to, or which devotion, or whatever. No one really cares, and if they do, so what? That’s on them, not on you.

    • Ah! You thing some of us a strange lot do you?
      You are right, it is just a personal choice.

      You show your hand however when you describe the 20 somethings as wearing Amish clothing and wearing veils self conciosuly looking around hoping someone will notice. Your contempt really comes through. And how you can know this about their inner motives is interesting. Perhaps you have a special ability to read motives?

      Find a place in your heart for your sisters Starsdancing

  6. Michele says:

    I have thought about veiling on and off over the years. But I always come back to the same issues so many have pointed out in this thread….. While I personally love seeing women veiled at Mass and think of doing it, at the same time, my large family already calls too much attention (just by walking in and taking up a whole pew w/ our large mixed up multicolored family) and I want to be a draw to people (you know, JPII, salt/light…) not in any way offputing. So in our parish not covering is the standard, w/ a few lovely exceptions, and I want to not be off putting, but instead be like others so we can find common ground (not always easy w/ our family either). So I dress nicely for Mass, modestly, and try to train my kids to do the same. Now, if most in our parish covered, I’d do it in a minute! But yeah, that whole ‘not standing out” thing is a big deal.

    • Yes, there is some charity in conforming to the general practice in such matters. For example the Bishops have often reminded that the posture for Holy Communion should be generally uniform though this does not absolutely take away one’s right to kneel, nevertheless uniformity is also a goal to be considered.

  7. starsdancing says:

    Actually, that was a recent and real situation and I wasn’t the only one who rolled her eyes at it.

    As the mother of five adult children and someone who has spent enough time in classrooms and coaching, I’m pretty good at reading the behavior of young adults, and I am familiar with young adults doing something they think is so radical and makes them somehow cooler than the grown-ups and hoping they’ll be noticed. This was one of those situations. I didn’t feel contempt. I was amused, and forgot about it until reading this post. I merely thought them young and silly and a little obvious.

    Kind of like how you think all sorts of things about me now, based on your interpretation of my post.

    The ENTIRE point of my post was that I don’t think any of you “strange”. I’ve lived through both sides of this issue, and pretty much seen it all and I do not get what all the fuss is about, why all the hand-wringing and angst. If it’s something a woman feels is the right thing for her to do, then she should do it. How does that equate to me thinking you’re strange? That’s some odd logic.

    I also find it interesting how you posted my response about five hours before your response to it.

    It was an honest answer, meant to be supportive, but if you need to judge, based on God knows what went on during those five hours, that, as I said, is on YOU and the other parties involved, not me. And I genuinely mean that bit about God knowing, because He does.

    So you have a lovely day, Msgr. I know I will.

  8. Diane Duggan says:

    I also grew up in the era where women had to wear hats in Chyrch. Easter was th time where EVERYONE got a new Easter bonnet. Shopping for a new hat was one of the highlights of Easter, not the preparation for the Resurrection of our Savior. We oohed and awed at each other’s head covering. Some of the styles were beautiful and tasteful, while some were downright outlandish. Fruit on bonnets, enough feathers to fly, veils covering the face, some not, and some ready to fly off at the slightest breeze. I also remember covering my head with a kleenex when a hat was not available. We female students at a catholic school even borrowed the boys’ baseball caps if we had no other choice. Sometimes the head coverings were more of a source of vanity than hair was. God bless us all.

  9. Mary says:

    I usually wear a veil at Latin Mass and not at ordinary form Mass. I figure: “when in this particular part of Rome, do as these particular Romans do.” I like covering my head, but if I was the only woman in the church with my head covered, I’d spend all of Mass thinking about my head covering and wondering if people think that’s weird or if I look humble to them or whatever. Usually I like to spend Mass thinking about more important things, like the Mass.

    I know some girls at my college who started wearing veils to our regular OF Mass, and a lot of people thought it was “holier-than-thou” pretentious.

  10. Nellie says:

    Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for starting this discussion. I started wearing the veil a few years ago, even though I felt embarrassed, self-conscious, afraid of appearing holier-than-thou, etc. I just felt a strong pull to do so. Since that time, I have noticed an increase in this topic being discussed. I think more and more women are feeling a nudge to veil. It is such a beautiful tradition, and it makes me feel like I am in a special, prayerful place — under that veil. (Despite the flip-flops and bongos in the church choir!)

    When I ordered my first veil on ebay, the seller included a booklet about the veil with my order. (Here is a link to the pdf file of that booklet: Notice on page 3 under the heading “Words” the commentary about NOW — the National Organization of Women. They encouraged “veil burnings.” to protest the Church’s “discrimination” against women.

    I am a former feminist. (Feminism encouraged me to go to work and drop my kids off with somebody else. The kids didn’t matter much. The Feminist Cause was the important thing. That was the first thing that made me leave.) I became so fed up with feminists trying to tell me how to live my life, how to be more like a man. Now, I wear my veil with PRIDE. I love my husband with pride. I raise my 6 children with love. And I couldn’t care less what NOW thinks about me.

    • Cynthia BC says:

      I believe that the view of “feminism” is often colored by the movement’s wacko fringes. I don’t think that feminism is wholly without merit.

      When my grandmother was born in the 1910s, women did not have the right to vote. Thank God for “feminists” who advocated for women to have the right to choose those who represent their communities at the local, state, and federal level. Many of the legal protections we take for granted today came from legislation passed by representatives accountable to female constituants.

      When my mother entered the workforce in the 1950s, the career options available to her included Secretary, Teacher or Nurse. “Feminism” empowered women to pursue vocations that matched their talents and interests. I have great respect for women who choose rearing children as their vocation, but not everyone can walk the same path.

      When I was a teen, girls were not permitted to serve at the altar with their brothers (a restriction, BTW, that many women over 40 still resent). How is it that I see girls assisting priests during Mass? Could it be that “feminism” encouraged the Church to find more ways to engage women in the life of their parishes?

      While women and men have different gifts, and different roles, they have the same value in the eyes of God. Some “feminists” unfortunately can’t see this, but they shouldn’t be disparaged as a whole.

      • Patty says:

        I agree with your post until you embrace the girl altar servers. The boys and men in our church were robbed of a special fraternity when the job could be easily replaced with a girl. The special ability of a group of boys to encourage each other in their faith and to possibly make it their calling was lost when girls appeared on the altar. Yes, I’m sure there was a decline in boys who wanted to do the job, but the male bonding atmosphere was being fostered less and less as people became more and more afraid of children and adults together. How did girls help? They filled a gap instead of dealing with the problem effectively. Now boys have no interest in serving because it is a “girl” thing and therefore few of them have an avenue to explore the manly art of priesthood.

        My Latin Mass Community has a large group of boys who jockey for the opportunity to serve merely because they get guy time together for bonding in an atmosphere of faith and manly service.

        Is it good to have the girls on the altar? I say no. Not because they CAN and WILL do the job, but because we NEED the boys to love their faith to be wonderful priests or holy parents. That WON’T happen if they don’t get the experience without having to compete with girls.

        • Mary says:

          Patty, I am a “veiler”, and have an odd feeling about female altar servers. However, I am okay with female lectrors, and have been asked to join in this ministry. We have female communion ministers, and I would value your opinion on that role.. (I have decided that being a communion minister is NOT for me. I understand that other women feel comfortable wih this role and think it is wonderful that they feel called by God to do thus, but I cannot, just as I cannot receive communion in the hand.) I feel no ill-will toward these women, just as I feel that women who do not veil are no less reverent than I am, but there is something in it that feels wrong. I have no idea why I think it’s okay to be a lector, but not an altar server or communion minister. Thanks for your thoughts!

  11. Plain Catholic says:

    The Greek word “katakalupto” is used to denote the covering mentioned in Scripture and according to my understanding of it, it translates as a veiling. Thank you so much for discussing this topic. God bless you and your ministry.

  12. Cynthia BC says:

    This morning at my Lutheran church, because of this post I took note of the number of women I saw wearing hats:


    There were, however, a lot of people wearing red in honor of Pentacost (sp?). My husband, despite my instructions, was not one of them. He DOES have lots of red ties…

  13. David says:

    Dear Monsignor, and fellow-readers,

    I would like to take up some matters related to men, if anyone can shed light on them:

    1. What, if anything, is 1 Cor. 11:3-16 known – or thought – to have to do with (a.) 2 Cor. 8:7-18, and (b.) the tallit (assuming it was common in the diaspora)?

    2. What do brothers (and priors, and abbots, et al.) in various orders with cowled habits do during the Offices, and the Eucharist, and does it vary depending on their liturgical function?

    3. The little 14th-century ‘pleurant’ statues sculpted by Claus Sluter for the tomb of the Duke of Burgundy in Dijon have got me wondering: are all of the wonderfully cowled or hooded robes in fact habits of various orders, or did some laymen just dress like that, then? In these often maniacally culturally ‘uniformitarian’ and ‘fashion-conformistic’ times, it would be marvellous to see some laymen going about quite licitly looking like ‘pleurants’, with faces impenetrably shaded deep in hoods, just as some Scots wear kilts (though not on a daily basis), and some fellow-citizens or visitors from non-European cultures splendid caftans (or whatever the various technical names, unknown to me, may be).

  14. Katherine says:

    Wearing a veil is something I’ve wanted to do for a while but haven’t been able to understand a reason to do it. I know some women are hesitant to wear one because they are concerned about their own temptation to attract attention but I’m the opposite….I’d be the one hiding and embarrassed. I have not wanted embarrassment to be a reason I didn’t wear one but I likewise couldn’t understand a reason why I would wear one. I had someone once point out to me that all the holiest things are the veiled ones. In the Old Testament, the inner most part of the temple was veiled and even now the Tabernacle is veiled, and even the altar is covered.

    I appreciate the idea that a woman’s hair is her glory, and I have long hair, but with a 4 year old, a 2 year old and an 11 month old, I’m lucky if my hair is brushed. I don’t think of it as glorifying much. But I loved in the video where it references the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. In this light, the veil would be not only a form of modesty and humility before God, but also a covering for the holy temple that is my body, that contains His precious Eucharist, and that welcomes His precious life in new children. This is a reason I can understand that, indeed, does honor women. Thanks so much for posting this!

  15. Clara says:

    The submission to a man is derived from submission to God. It’s not so much about the man himself as it is the role he plays in the family–the man signifies Christ, the woman his Bride the Church, children the fruit of the love between the two. Rarely is a man a perfect example of this, as a woman is rarely a perfect example…but honestly, I connect more with the veil as an indication of how I embody the Church, who is the Bride of Christ. The Mass is the wedding banquet of Christ and his Bride, and because I specifically embody the Church, more so than the man does, I find it fitting that I wear a veil–a hallmark of a bride. Also, one usually only veils what is holy: emphasizing, then, that rather than being inferior (to men–as some would have us think), our bodies are holy temples which in a special way recall the Church as Bride.

    I think this can be a pretty heated topic–plenty of women have somewhat sour memories of veiling and would rather not go back to it. I myself am a young woman of 23, and I began veiling at 19–not because it was something “radical” or whatever. I struggled with the idea of it for a long time; I felt God calling me to begin veiling but still had a lot of issues to work through. I thought people would find me distracting, or see me as “holier-than-thou,” or that it would make me prideful. Sometimes these things did happen, but in the end I realized that I couldn’t ignore what God compelled me to do because of my own fears.

    However–I don’t necessarily think that this is something that EVERY WOMAN EVER should do. If that were the case, it would be brought back into canon law. Until the Church speaks to say that all women must veil, I won’t say it. But I have found a multitude of spiritual benefits to veiling, and despite logistical issues, and issues with pride or social perception, I really love it, and find it to be something that brings me closer to my Bridegroom.

  16. Ross Caughell says:

    Interesting topic, Msgr Pope. My wife, a Catholic of a year and one month’s standing has purchased an Mantilla to wear to Mass. She did this without consulting me, though I approve. Unfortunately I do not know the reason for her decision.

  17. Tom says:

    Forgive me if I am repeating something someone has already said… As Monsignor pointed out, for those of us attached to the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass, seeing women wearing veils is very commonplace. In fact, in many aspects of this traditional form of worship, the use of a veil is central. The tabernacle and the ciborium are veiled whenever the Blessed Sacrament is present. When not in use, the chalice is covered with a chalice veil. The altar itself is covered not once, but three times. And that’s just to name a few examples.

    In short, that which is held sacred and beautiful is veiled. How wonderful would it be if society were to once again hold femininity as sacred and beautiful?

  18. Mariam says:

    I learned to start wearing a chapel veil from observing other girls at Catholic college. I worked myslef up finally to ask one of them why she did and she used a phrase which I haven’t heard before, “modesty veil”: “Modesty isn’t just about ‘no one wants to see that'” basically expressing the ‘Woman’s hair is her glory’ idea in a different way.

    When a friend started taking me to the Traditional Mass I was happy to borrow a veil from her because it was the right thing to do there. But everything I read said that you wear a veil because Jesus is there and because Mass is going on, not just because it’s the Traditional Mass. I flitted through some struggles at that time with how to understand the New Mass (which, I was learning, was made by cutting many pieces out of the Traditional Mass and adding some other random things) and in that way, wearing a veil there too was actually an affirmation: This is also Mass!

  19. christine says:

    Very interesting read. I was catholic and converted to Islam. I have embraced my veil, not because as an authority to man, because Islam believes man and women were created for each other and are equal. (created from his rib becuase she is not above him or below him, but his partner and they are protectors over each other) But for God. I want to be modest and pious. Even the most beautiful pearl is covered. I feel like I am following the greatest women God created, Mary. I like not wasting time on hair and make up, but praising and worshiping God. Is this not why we were created, for his Glory? Regardless of religion, I did enjoy this and found it interesting, thank you Msgr Pope.

    I believe men and women are created equal, yet have different roles, abilities and interests. This is nothing to be looked down apon, for it helps us help our spouses and make a fulfilling committment and uphold the laws of God Almighty.

    God Bless you all with Mercy and Peace,

  20. Marty says:

    It seems to me that women should were veils as instructed by St. Paul simply for the reason it offends angels, who haven’t gone away.

  21. Lisa says:

    My daughter and I have been wearing veils at a Novus Ordo parish for the last 6 months. It unfortunately isn’t something that I feel fully comfortable with. We’d been several times to a Latin Mass Parish that is too far away for us to attend regularly. My H and my understanding is that Christ is present in the Tabernacle and that women are to to wear veils in respect to Our Lord. The fact that women wore headcoverings for thousands of years (and loose, flowing robes or dresses that long as well) seemed to me to be fairly convincing that according to Tradition, this was the preferred attire.

    Having said that…the New Mass is completely different than the Tridentine. There doesn’t seem to been any reverance for Our Lord, and while I’m taking it on Faith and the teaching of the Church that the Real Presence does still exist in this place …. in reality, I feel foolish wearing a veil in the midst of tee shirts and shorts, mini skirts and flip flops.

    I’m not better than anyone else …. but my attire and veil set me apart in a way that I don’t personally think is endearing me to anyone … they just think we’re ‘weird.’

  22. Marvin Pineo says:

    nice… this is article i am looking for the whole time.. thanks buddy

  23. Cindy says:

    I don’t think veils are necessary to gain holiness. However, they make a person appear to be holy. For some, the external does matter greatly. Latin does matter to them because it sounds holy even though they may not understand the words. And if the congregation is doing something else because they don’t really know what is being said, than what good is that?

    What matters is that a person is dressed not to attract attention but to blend in, to not be a distraction, that all focus is on Christ and that all attention is led there. If a women’s head being uncovered is a distraction, I would agree, however, it is not to me. All that matters is Christ, not my neighbor’s head being covered in a veil. And I love to talk to Christ in a language that I understand and to hear a language that I understand. For all prayers are the most powerful when it comes from the heart.

    The movement toward the Latin mass is the exact opposite extreme from the “entertainment” suffered in the English masses to the “entertainment” of the look of sacred — simply becuase it is spoken in a mysterious langugage it is better, it appears to be holy, even though most don’t even know what is being said. Our Lady says that the most powerful prayers are the ones from the heart. How then can one pray if they don’t even know what they are saying?

    • Lisa says:

      I have studied Latin for 2 1/2 years, I pre-read the Mass readings, and I read the Missal when I can’t understand. I do not chose to attend the Traditional Mass because I like a “mysterious” language. I prefer the Latin Mass because only there have I found a Mass that feeds me enough to see my prayer life blossom. When I enter the darkened church before Mass begins, my whole body relaxes, and I anticipate spending blessed time with Jesus in a special way that will fill me with the grace I need to go out into the world and follow Christ. Your assumption that the people at a Latin Mass don’t know what they are saying is false in my experience, as is the idea that “the congregation is doing something else.” Like any other Mass, there are well-celebrated ones and poorly-celebrated ones, so if you have actually been to a Latin Mass and seen this behavior firsthand, I would say you have assisted at a poorly-celebrated one. I suspect, however, that you have yet to go to the Extraordinary Form Mass. Try it some time! You might like it! And if you don’t, that’s fine, too, but please don’t assume that those who do are working from the wrong motives.

  24. Constance says:

    I was wondering about wearing a head covering all day when in public. Are there any Catholic women who do that? I know Muslim women and Jewish woman do, why not Catholics?
    I also want to thank you Msgr for this blog, it gave me a new perspective on the veil, and I love the idea of the “Mantel of Mary”.

    • Lizzie says:

      I am inclined to agree with the comment by Constance here: why don’t Catholic women (apart from nuns) cover their heads all day if they make a big issue of doing so in church? Also, is it acceptable to wear a veil in a Church of England establishment? Some C of E are Anglican (semi Catholic) and others less so. This one confuses me a bit.

  25. kjd says:

    Does anyone remember the women with Kleenex on their heads? At the time this was required, men wore hats (that they took off in church). Now, neither men nor women tend to wear hats.

    I do have to reply to the argument from nature: Men have long hair too! It is like arguing: Women have eyes, so they should wear sunglasses. But men shouldn’t. OTOH, not all Thomas Aquinas’s answers were great either.

    I suspect, in Paul’s time, NOT wearing a veil was a political statement of some kind. If every woman was already wearing a veil, he wouldn’t have said a word. If there weren’t problems with the women who weren’t wearing veils, he wouldn’t have said anything. How much would you like to bet the women who didn’t wear veils were standing up, teaching their own brand of Christianity? Probably complaining about their husbands.

    It is amazing that we always hear about the problems in the various churches that Paul’s teachings were meant to combat until it comes to something we women don’t like. Then it is an absolute attack on all women. In some letters, he gives high regard to women who appear to be doing exactly what he seems to condemn in other letters.

    Custom is the strongest argument. If woman’s wearing a head covering again becomes a sign of respect in a church, I’ll wear one. Otherwise, I’ll stick with what I’m comfortable with. After all, when I’ve gone into mosques, I’ve always removed my shoes.

    • Unchanging says:

      We all got stuck once in a while with no covering when rushing to make mass and the baby would vomit & need a complete change. Lol, any number of calamoties and someone would have to throw a hankie on her head. Good memory.

  26. Seven says:

    I’m a denominational fence-sitter when it comes to Christianity. I follow the Bible, but have found it difficult to find a ‘home’ in one denomination or another as I have found teachings and practices that don’t match what I read in the Bible. I am looking more and more at becoming Catholic as it seems to have kept closest to the original teachings and traditions. I was brought up Baptist and only recently discovered that my Bible missed out seveal books! I have felt drawn to the Catholic teachings as they appear to take a more literal view of the Bible and place less emphasis on personal interpretation, so I have been a little confused to discover that many Catholic women no longer consider veils to be neccessary. The arguments seem to be over social values and old vs modern traditions (which is how Baptist practices were explained to me when I was a child), but 1 Cor 11:10 makes it very very clear “That is why women ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels”. I hear people arguing that this was simply tradition in Paul’s time or his opinion. The same argument could therefore be made of many other Christian traditions. Should we therefore start editing parts from the Bible that disagree with modern society or our own values? If veils are no longer a required biblical practice then what else can we ignore? Where do we draw the line? I think if there is any question over whether or not women should wear veils then it should be: ‘Is offending the angels less or more of a sin than potentially offending people in the modern church?’ Why would the angels be somehow less offended today?

    For those women worried about drawing attention to themselves, perhaps it would do your congregation some good to be reminded of how they are to behave. Act as an example to others. Jesus didn’t try to blend in and annoyed many people when he came to earth, but that didn’t make his teachings and actions wrong. Again, are you more concerned about offending the angels and God or following modern society?

    Also, I cannot find any reference to the Pope saying women are no longer required to wear veils. Could someone please provide a link for me?

    Thank you

    • Mary Ellen says:

      Dear ‘Seven’?

      It would be wonderful if you could contact Marcus Grodi of the EWTN
      program “The Journey Home” who could help you learn more about
      conversion to the Catholic Church (no obligation).

      May God bless you and save you from unholy controversy, and bring
      you the peace of Christ.

      Peace be with you.

  27. Meda Kresse says:

    Keep up good work,nice article.

  28. Graciela says:

    I have read the book from Colleen Hammond and left it on the side for sometime thinking this is not for me… but something tells me I must just do what pleases our Lord, not what one next to me thinks, that will be him or her , so I started wearing skirts and if the Holy Spirit wants I pray to give the strength to continue if this is what I must do , I always wore jeans and slacks….now I am curious and wanted to read about using a veil and I am reading all of your replies and to me is that I will just do what I think I am called to do and not look to what others do , what if the Saints only did what others did ??
    Thank you Monsignor for this clarification :)

  29. Robin says:

    I’m sorry, all of you are flipping nuts. You women who wear veils in church are so embarrassing.

    • My Robin you seem to be such a charitable person. It is clear that God has really touched your heart with love and respect for others.

      • Jeremiah says:

        Msgr. Pope, you’re sarcasm is greatly appreciated! This article was well-written and presented the issue very clearly. As an Eastern Catholic in the US, it upsets me to see that my church is also losing this tradition so that we can “fit in” :(

    • Carolina says:

      Robin have you ever read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 You could perhaps read it and prayerfully meditate on it….then see, how your comment fits with the way God wants us to love each other….”by your love they will know you are my disciples…” Love is patient….not rude…not arrogant and does not insist in its own way.

    • Becka says:

      Who are they embarrassing? They obviously aren’t embarrassing themselves but maybe you are embarrassed? Why? I think if women want to wear a veil to mass they should. I was raised Baptist and am currently in the process of conversion to Catholicism. We wore dresses to church, always. I still wear dresses to church, always, because that’s what I’m comfortable in. Now, we have young ladies wearing shorts and flip flops. My parents would’ve considered that embarrassing. But I have learned and prayed that I do not concern myself with what others are wearing or doing. I concern myself with my salvation. And yes, I’m going to wear the veil because it’s what I want to do.

  30. Travis Blalock says:

    The word of God says for a Woman to cover her head and to submit to her husband. The church teaches that the scriptures are with out error. Thus not much more to talk about is there?

    Travis Blalock

  31. Mrs. Smith says:

    I agree, Travis, but this is a very difficult thing as a woman if you have not been exposed to a good husband. My husband has sexually exploited me over the 23 years we’ve been married and I have some emotional trauma involved…. he usually tells me, “You are supposed to submit to me in ALL things.”. So he uses coersion, guilt and exploitation of piety to have all the sex he wants.

    So we are attending our first Latin Mass tomorrow and he insists I and our girls wear a veil. Honestly, if it weren’t for him, I would have no problem wearing the veil. But the pain and suffering his chauvanism has caused me over the years makes it harder to submit because I feel denegraded and humilitated by his insistence that I submit to him.

    He’s not a very good husband.

    I ask Mother Mary to show me what the veil means and to give me a greater understanding to submit, but I blame men like my husband for making this a struggle. A good husband would make a wife want to wear the veil all on her own with no promptings because his example would be that of Christ’s.

  32. Carolina says:

    I recently started wearing a veil to mass. Not even four days later my husband got threatened by the parish priest….he told him that because he is the youth ministry coordinator, my choices have an impact on youth ministry. He claims , without even giving it a chance and with no proof just his opinion that the veil will scare away the youth. I had been trying to discern about wearing a veil for 7 years …..I always wanted to wear one. No political agendas, no church agendas, not about other people….simply I felt called from the bottom of my heart. My recent decision was not easy for me, because like many people, I struggle with vanity, pride….and maybe even a few insecurities etc. It took a lot of courage for me to wear the veil, but after I made that decision I felt great joy and peace. When I describe why the veil is important for me, I am simply talking about myself….my feelings….my testimony – I do not understand why some people take some of these comments as a criticism to them. For me it is an exercise of obedience to what I feel God is calling me to do, for me it is an exercise of modesty because I do it not to look more attractive or more beautiful but actually to forget my appearance and focus on the mass….on our Lord, to me it is a great opportunity to make reparation for my past sins that stemmed from my immodesty even in Church….and a reparation for all the offences that are done to our Lord today, in our parish at least, when it comes to modesty. The parish priest told my husband either my veil goes or he goes….I am heartbroken….how can this be happening in the Catholic Church? He said it is for old ladies, he said Paul encouraged it 2000 years ago, and I was basically ignorant for using it today. This is far from true – it took discernment and prayer and for me it was not an easy decision….it was a sacrifice, one I gladly decided to do because of my love for Jesus….and as always when we give up something in this case: my way, my will, my preferences….my pride….as always He gave me back more than I ever thought possible, full measure shaken down and overflowing. My husband is willing to lose his job over this…I no longer know what to do, I am deeply saddened and disappointed.

    • Leigh says:

      Dear Carolina,

      My heart weeps for you. I am so saddened that your obedience has caused such grief. I do believe that if your church is reprimanding obedience to Gods word, then your husband is right to prayerful consider a new position. As Paul told us, there is no argument on the matter of a woman covering her head. The only reason it was spoken only to the church in Corinth was because the other churches were walking in obedience and didn’t need the words. It is so very clear that we are called to wear a head covering, to argue this might say that anything Paul wrote does not apply to us in the 21st century…how absurd!. The Spirit allowed the verses to remain in the Bible to this date, thus saying, it is a command we should follow. You, obviously, did not make your decision lightly, but through prayer, were shown the Truth on the matter. Thank God that your husband, your head authority, agrees with you and supports you in your loving act. Blessings be upon your covered head!! I would love to hear an update on how this has carried out.

  33. Gloria Wnorowski says:

    I attend our Sunday Latin mass here in Jacksonville, Florida and I do not wear a veil covering. My dear husband has commented to me about it. I am sincere when I say the veil has not impressed upon me one way or another. Perhaps I should talk with our priest. I attended Latin mass because my heart tells me and I value the sacredness of the mass. The time I spend at Sunday mass is important to me, the holiness of the time with Jesus, with the priest and with my fellow Catholic people. Without Sunday Latin Mass, I feel empty. Should I wear a veil covering? Something to think about and perhaps investigate further. Thank you.

  34. GArrett Crowley says:

    I don’ believe it! This stuff would be worthy of Islam!!

  35. GArrett Crowley says:

    OK. Leave it.

  36. Carol says:

    Since reverting to the Church, I’ve felt drawn to more traditional practices, and while I occasionally attend an EF Mass, that requires a 45 mile round trip commute. My own parish doesn’t offer one, though. So I’ve found myself at primarily OF Masses, that are celebrated reverently and thoughtfully, but where even the little old ladies don’t wear veils.

    I had purchased a couple of mantillas, and was downright laughable with struggling to keep them from falling off, going askew, or draping over my face, Cousin Itt style (if you remember the TV show, the Addams Family.) This was all to attend the EF Mass. I finally did get the hang of it, and thought I would start to wear one to my OF Mass parish on the first Sunday of Advent. That day has arrived, and I’m chickening out. I’ll wear something on my head, but it’s going to be either a beret or a scarf.

    Funny thing is, I’m a divorced Catholic, and have lived alone for many years. Other peoples’ opinions of me haven’t figured much into the equation most of my life. So I’m beginning to wonder just what the heck is wrong with me for letting a silly piece of lace become such a consuming obsession. Nobody is making me wear it or making me not wear it.

    Anyone ever have this experience, and how did you overcome it so that you could pursue your call (veil or not) with peace and freedom?

    This is beginning to drive me a little nutty. And it’s driving me even nuttier because it really is not a central part of spirituality. I’m fine with it at the EF, and feel weird about it at the OF. Makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.


  37. julie myrick says:

    Actually I have not read all of the responses yet …For about 9 r 10 yrs. now I have been researching this. Don’t know why because I am a post VII baby, had really no exposure to headcoverings.My husband is a convert.He was raised baptist. He changed when we were expecting our 2nd out of 7 children. Found it first in New test. in St. Paul’s letters. After more digging , found where it was church law before VII. When I would ask people everyone would say VII changed that….But after MUCH searching (because I didn’t want to wear one!!!) NOWHERE in VII documents can I find ANYTHING that says they “did away” with that. I started wearing it about 3 r 4 wks ago (my husband and older kids do still sit with me at Mass! lol) My 3 older girls r not wearing them yet…that is between them and God…(they have already confirmed and this is foreign to them) But my young daughters do wear it. It is a symbol of obedience and to remind us that man was made in the image and likeness of God, and we were made from man’s rib, (hence woman) of man. =) By the way, don’t know how i found this , I was online looking for a recipe!!! Lol!!! And it is pleasing to God. God forgive me for taking so long to try to please Him for fear of what family and friends would think!!! =(

  38. Judy says:

    This is a wonderful and informative site. Thank you. Veil your heart and then veil your head. Sacred Scripture tells us to do so. Code of Canon Law 1917 tells us to do so. Women began taking off their veil in the early 1960’s in direct violation to canon law and scripture which is long before Code of Canon Law 1983. So what happened? Look to the NOW organization. Read the book called, Slouching Towards Gomorrah, by Robert H. Bork, page 202 in the paper back. In part, it says, “Now is the time to fight back. No God, no master, no laws.” Could it be that radical feminism sparked the removal of the veil? When we came back to choir practice in the autums, our choir director told us to take off our veils. We did and never questioned it because she said to do that. Recently there seems to be a calling home to women to realize the holiness of wearing a veil in church. May it bear great fruit. Remember the Blessed Mother whose head is always veiled. Remember St. Veronica who gave her veil to Christ and he imprinted his face upon it. Remember wearing a veil in church is not for your friends, it is for Christ and His honor and glory and for what He did for you. When that comes from your heart, you will veil your head. Could it be with a change of the letters that not wearing the veil is evil? Food for thought. Blessed Lent to all.

  39. Kell Brigan says:

    On another site, someone says, “A woman who wears the veil on her heart accepts the place that God gives to women in the Church, the family, and society.” I totally agree. Of course, that place includes the Senate, a wide variety of paid jobs, various mountain tops, Wall Street, working in the Vatican as a theologian…

    As for St. Paul, taking everything IN CONTEXT, the whole thing about “submitting” to husbands is in the midst of a discussion (along with James’) of also telling slaves to serve their masters well. I don’t approve of slavery, inside or outside of marriage, and I don’t see where the Church does, either. The main point of those passages is that people are supposed to treat each other decently and cooperate together, regardless of what their particular social roles happen to be. And, nowhere do I see anything that contradicts the equal dignity and free will of women.

    I wear a chapel cap at Mass whenever I @($%& well feel called to. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “obeying” anyone but God. The color I choose is whatever goes best with that day’s hiking boots (although, Easter always gets the white one.) The only thing that bugs me about it is the possibility that some creepy, confused people who think women have to obey men might actually presume to approve of what I’m doing. I’m quite glad it’s all evolved into a choice, like any other devotional. I just wish everybody would leave the standard-setting to the Magisterium and the Parish, and stop studying everyone else’s behavior so intently when the liturgy is calling them to focus on God and their own souls. Honestly, the only item of apparal I noticed today at Mass was one woman’s pink sweater, and that’s only because it had terrific embroidery. I couldn’t tell you whether or not anyone had anything on their head.

  40. Thomas E. Lassek says:

    In all comments, no one has presented any historical input concerning the REASON the church requires women to wear a head covering during Mass. Mega-coincidences, if they happen at all, are extremely rare, if there are 3 issues of coincidence then the odd’s are incalculable. 4 issues and there is no coincidence, there’s a reason. Opinion: Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim women are all required to wear a cover as well as some Orthodox and Evangelical’s. It’s one of many “Carry-Overs” from Judaism, a caste system reflecting social stratification. Crudely and in a nutshell – Men first, Women second. There is no other possible answer.


    • Heather says:

      I suggest reading the scripture passage above, or open your own bible to 1 corinth, 11 and read. it say when a women prays that her head must be veiled. for to not do so means you disrespect God.

  41. Carol says:

    Our pastor (FSSP) once gave a sermon about the veil and made a point that I had not heard previously. He said that we veil things that are sacred, such as the chalice and the tabernacle. Woman is sacred because when a baby is conceived, God instills the soul in the baby. This intimate relationship with God makes Woman especially sacred.

    That sure flies in the face of the feminist idea that a veil indicates some sort of inferiority.

  42. Janet Marie says:

    Monsignor, thank you for this post. I am glad with prodding from the Holy Spirit that I have taken up the practice of head covering as I was born after the Vatican II Council. I use veils, scarves, chapel veils, hats, or mantillas at both forms of the Mass, and have done so for just over 2 years. I no longer care what others think of the practice and if so, I will simply point out 1st Corinthians 11 to them.

  43. Jeanna says:

    I do not currently veil but have been looking into it and would like to as soon as my husband to gets on board. This is how I understand the current Church “rule” on veiling. If I am missing something please let me know.

    “For 2,000 years, Catholic women have veiled themselves before entering a church or any time they are in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament (e.g., during sick calls). It was written into the 1917 Code of Canon Law, Canon 1262, that women must cover their heads — “especially when they approach the holy table” (“mulieres autem, capite cooperto et modeste vestitae, maxime cum ad mensam Dominicam accedunt”) — but during the Second Vatican Council, Bugnini (the same Freemason who designed the Novus Ordo Mass) was asked by journalists if women would still have to cover their heads. His reply, perhaps innocently enough, was that the issue was not being discussed. The journalists (as journalists are wont to do with Church teaching) took his answer as a “no,” and printed their misinformation in newspapers all over the world. 1 Since then, many, if not most, Catholic women have lost the tradition.

    After so many years of many women forgetting or positively repudiating the veil, clerics, not wanting to be confrontational or upset radical feminists, pretended the issue didn’t exist. When the 1983 Code of Canon Law was produced, veiling was simply not mentioned (not abrogated, mind you, but simply not mentioned). However, Canons 20-21 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law make clear that later Canon Law abrogates earlier Canon Law only when this is made explicit and that, in cases of doubt, the revocation of earlier law is not to be presumed; quite the opposite:

    Canon 20 A later law abrogates or derogates from an earlier law, if it expressly so states, or if it is directly contrary to that law, or if it integrally reorders the whole subject matter of the earlier law. A universal law, however, does not derogate from a particular or from a special law, unless the law expressly provides otherwise.

    Canon 21 In doubt, the revocation of a previous law is not presumed; rather, later laws are to be related to earlier ones and, as far as possible, harmonized with them.

    Canons 27 and 28 add to the argument:

    Canon 27 Custom is the best interpreter of laws.

    Canon 28 Without prejudice to the provisions of can. 5, a custom, whether contrary to or apart from the law, is revoked by a contrary custom or law. But unless the law makes express mention of them, it does not revoke centennial or immemorial customs, nor does a universal law revoke particular customs. 2″

  44. Deborah Lee says:

    I was received into the Church in 2012. Right before I was received I felt compelled to wear a veil. I don’t really know where it came from. I have never attended Latin mass and I didn’t really know anyone who wore one. I thought about it, but I was uncomfortable with the idea of wearing one. I really didn’t want to draw attention to myself especially since I was received before a large crowd at the cathedral. I kept feeling compelled and out of the blue someone gave me her veil. I was told a friend from my class who would be wearing one so I wore it for my confirmation.

    For the first year I only wore it at places other people had them. This did not include my local parish because they tend to be more liberal and I had some stares and a comment when I tried once.

    About a year after I became Catholic I felt the Lord compelling me again. This time I felt compelled to wear it to every mass. I went to my priest. He says he is theologically liberal, so I was not really sure what his response would be. He said “That compelling…it’s a call” and he encouraged me pay attention to the call. I did.

    I still find it awkward at times. I do it because God leads me to and it is part of my worship, but I know that there are people assume I want to stand out. I know that because I’ve had one priest accuse me of that when I tried to put it on in the confessional.

    I’ve been told that I am not a typical veil wearer. I’m not sure what that means, but it seems that a lot of women are uncomfortable with the veil. I told one friend that it is like being set apart rather than being a place of subservience. I think that subservience is the idea many get when they hear the word submission. I think it means God calls us differently and there is an order to how he does things.

    I pointed out to her that there was a veil over the tabernacle at the parish we were at. It doesn’t mean that Jesus is lesser or made weaker. It is as sign of both his glory and his humility. I’m sure over time and with more study I will understand it more. For me right now it is simple, I wear my veil because God asked me to and when I wear it I feel closer to him.

  45. Steve says:

    In Christ there is no male or female. To give this sexisy “custom” even one line of consideration is disgraceful.

    The Jewish religion considered females second class citizens theologically – even pollutants to the extent that female menstruation was an unholy, offense condition.

    The Roman Catholic church has been equally misogynistic towards women: from perpetuating the blasphemous literal misinterpretation of the birth of Jesus by “a virgin”, to Thomistic philosophizing that female embryos were damaged male ones, ultimately to invalidating the priestly ministry of women because they don’t have testicles.

    There is no clearer manifestation of the evil of the “self referential” hierarchy Pope Francis speaks about than church laws which deny the core message of the Gospel: that God became flesh in all humans – male and female without distinction.

    • The distinction between man and woman is God-given. What means means is not that there is no distinction, but rather that all are of equal dignity. But men and women ARE different, that it patently obvious and is from the hand of God. Thus, there may be and ought be some distinctions about how they dress. That said, the veil is not a necessary component of that distinction in many cultures today and thus the Church universal does not require it. There are some local Churches however that insist on it for the sake of their custom.

  46. Love Olusegun says:

    All this doesn’t mean now…… We’re in another world now

  47. Melissa says:

    I converted ten years ago to the Catholic faith. I too have been called to cover my head in church. My head will actually tingle or I feel a tapping on the top of my head which I believe is a physical reminder that I should do this. Rarely do I seen anyone covered in any of my local churches. I have covered my head with scarves, hats. It’s much easier in winter. I have not wished to stand out and one does feel as if people are looking and judging and it is a difficult sacrifice. I have recently began attending a church which offers the Extraordinary Form Mass. Almost all of the females have their heads covered. The altar rails have also been restored and the altar servers hold pattens and all receive on the tongue. In addition there is great modesty in how people dress and I have found that I feel greatly strengthened spiritually after attending Mass. When attending the ordinary form I found temptations harder to resist and that I had to go to communion more frequently as spiritually I felt weak and needed to go more often to be strengthened. After the Latin Mass I can go all week until the following Sunday and I don’t find temptations as hard to fight off. I feel so much stronger as if the graces received were more powerful and more abundant. Now I find it very difficult to go to the ordinary mass as I don’t see the same level of reverence for our Lord there and it grieves me.

  48. Jason Butler says:

    Why is everyone ignoring the last verse? It is the conclusion. We have no such traditions, neither the churches of god…Paul perfectly clarifies this.You have ears but do not hear, eyes but do not see..

  49. pinacled says:

    Remember when Jesus corrected the pharisees. They complained when the disciples didn’t wash their hands before eating. Saying the disciples were now unclean. Jesus answered and said unto them, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Hobeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, and many other things ye do. that which enter into the belly does not enter the heart, but is purged. That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts. Many times did Jesus correct the traditions of men. for instance divorce. you must discern between commandments, statutes, and ordinances. You cannot put new wine into old wine skins.

  50. Mark says:

    Dear Monsignor Pope:
    Thank you. How well written. I was an altar boy in the pre-Vatican II era and fondly remember when nearly all women wore veils or hats to Holy Mass. How far we have come. (In the wrong direction).

    Please let us not forget some additional symbolism of women wearing the veil, taught me by my wife, and by the Sisters of Mercy.
    1) Identification with the dress style of the Blessed Virgin illustrates a parallel desire to not only dress like Her, but to act and live like Her.
    2) Other things that are (or should be) veiled at Mass – the Tabernacle, the Chalice, the Altar. Veiled things are the most sacred, as is the treasure of femininity, that bore and nurtured the human body of our Christ, and the fertility, the womb, the vessel of life granted woman by God.

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